As a fan of Duran Duran when I was a teenager, I enjoyed this look at what life was like for members of the band. In particular, I thought John's look at his early life, his flaws, drug use, and recovery was both brave and honest. The central question, perhaps, is how do people retain their humanity when beset with the excesses of superstardom? John Taylor recovered his humanity, and I felt happy for him when he did.
If you laid out the books "The Tipping Point," "We Are Anonymous" and "Freakonomics," this book would neatly fill the empty space among them. While "Reinventing Discovery" details specific examples of how the Internet is enabling new forms of scientific collaboration today, it draws attention to the cultural aspects of our networked existence, and this is where I found the book most interesting. With so many people willing to participate in large, networked endeavors, maybe we really are on the cusp of finding new ways to fund and perform scientific research. I wish I could read the sequel that's going to come out decades from now, explaining how all these trends played out.
I'm a fan of Dr. E., and I've "attended" her live webcasts at Sounds True. I could listen to her voice for hours and hours (and come to think of it, I guess I have!). Here, Dr. E. delves into the issue of why we sometimes sabotage ourselves and how we might begin to change this behavior. This book is on par with the rest of her work, and though it is short, every time I listen to it, I pick up on something I missed the last time. I recommend it for repeat listens.
I'm a fan of the Showtime series and listened to this book (upon which the show is based) following season one. First: the narration is not that bad. The occasional mispronunciations and fatigue in Ms. Barton's voice were slightly distracting, but her reading is pleasant enough. Second: the book gives a deeper background on Virginia Johnson's motivations, and—assuming the series follows the book in season two—I now think I better understand why some of the show's subplots exist. I heard little of William Masters' voice in the book; Mr. Maier interviewed Johnson in person, and had to rely on Masters' unpublished autobiography and other people's interviews for the doctor's perspective. A potential spoiler for the show...so stop reading now if you don't want to know... ... ... is that Johnson denies that Masters ever had a low sperm count. Of course, the show may veer away from the book any number of ways, but I enjoyed reading it and comparing the two.
I really struggled with how to rate this title, because the basic elements of the story are truly spectacular. I'm not giving anything away by saying that the book tells two parallel stories, one set in the Middle Ages and one set in modern times. Both stories connect very well, and every subplot is there for a reason, so it's clear that Connie Willis thought this book through carefully before she wrote it.
That said, I have two problems with the book. First, it could have been about one third shorter. Certain conversations happen again and again, and little plot development results from them. And Willis offers a little too much detail about the daily activities of people working in a modern hospital and a Medieval household.
Second, about half of the characters are intensely annoying. I suppose that lends an element of realism to the story, but so many of the characters are so annoying that I felt myself getting frustrated with the story.
A somewhat related word about the narrator: Jenny Sterlin was very good at conveying just how annoying those annoying characters were. She also does men's voices quite well. But she struggles with speaking in an American accent.
In sum, I've liked other of Connie Willis' books, and I didn't dislike this one enough to stop reading her work.
I started listening to "On What Grounds" with very low expectations. I was interested in exploring fiction in the mystery sub-genre where activities such as crafts or cooking propel the plot. I've read books where knitting is the focus, and jewelry making, and baking, and now this. Sadly, I have found the writing in some of the others to be lacking. In this one, however, the cafe was central to the plot and the descriptions and dialog were rich and authentic. It stands out from the others in this genre, and I plan to read more of the series.
This book grabbed me from the very beginning, and did not let me go. Driving home and listening in the car, I missed the turn for my house! It's not a mystery... We know from the beginning who the killer is, and how he gets away with murder. The question is, will our heroine figure it out in time to save herself and the people she loves? Lauren Beukes created many different characters for the book, and tells the story from each one's point of view. Coming from a less-skilled author, the frequent changes in time and place and point of view could be confusing, but not here. Perhaps the use of multiple narrators helped—and the narrators were all very good—but this is some seriously good writing! I highly recommend this book.
The author seems to have lived some kind of magical life in which he's done amazing things that most people wouldn't attempt, all without negative consequences. Good for him, really! But I would have liked to have some advice for people like me who want to bring some less dramatic forms of non-conformity into their lives.
I'm slowly working my way through this series, in which certain people possess magical powers that are channeled through the geometric shapes around them. Each book is somewhat formulaic, but enjoyable, and I always find myself interested in the lives of the characters. The first few chapters always contain a lot of exposition, so that readers who missed the previous books will still be able to follow along.
This is written in the spirit of a long-form poem, as an ode to (and lamentation of) the creative life. There's some good information here—not presented as a to-do list, but rather as a story, where we learn from the example of the author and her life as a writer. The narrator is absolutely excellent, with her voice inflections worthy of a poetry performance.
This book is based on a course that Dr. McGonigal teaches at Stanford, and it packs eight weeks of information into eight hours—and does it well. I didn't feel overwhelmed. I listened to one chapter a week, and gave thought to each topic in the days between, as her students would. Unlike some self-help books that seem to berate a person into making changes in their lives, this one is kind and empathetic. It's also very well researched, so I'm confident that I learned skills based on real scientific evidence.
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